Plans for upcoming mini vacation/immigration office run booked…We’re attempting to make a tedious task an enjoyable experience…

A beautiful beach scene from a stop halfway through the four to five hour harrowing drive.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

A coconut husk becomes an interesting find on the beach.

This particular Sunday morning with the household help off, we lazily lingered in bed, reading email, checking FB and drinking Tom’s delicious French pressed coffee. Six days a week we get up earlier, shower and dress (in swimsuits), exiting the bedroom earlier for the two Katuks to make the bed and clean.

On Sundays, alone the only morning all week, we find ourselves experiencing a day almost similar to our old lives, minus the physical copy of the Sunday paper, the possibility of family or friends visiting and the constant energy expended in cooking, laundry, household maintenance and repairs, and yard work or snow removal.

Eliminating all the above tasks and here, we’re left to our own resources; a daily walk on the beach or in the neighborhood, quietly staring out at the sea, preparing our daily post while often engaged in idle chatter.

Statue shop on the highway from Denpasar.

As I prepared today’s late post, Gede stopped by to say hello, the second morning in a row, giving us an opportunity to ask him questions about things we’ve seen on the beach that are yet unfamiliar.

Yesterday morning, Gede also stopped by after a week away visiting family in Lovina during the Hindu holiday. The 10 days of reverence and celebration was quickly coming to an end. He’d returned from almost a week in his home town of Lovina spending time with his family and friends. 

The time for us to visit Lovina was fast approaching (a two hour drive each way) where it’s necessary to begin the three day process required over a period of five days, applying for and hopefully receiving the 30 day visa extension. For new readers, we’d completed this same process during our last stay in Bali a few months ago.

Many shops in Denpasar sell decorations for Hindu holidays.

Over these past few months Tom’s been somewhat angst ridden about this lengthy process. While in Singapore for a week, starting at the end of June, we didn’t have ample time to apply at the Indonesian Embassy. 

At the time, we had to leave our passports for a few days at both the Vietnamese and Thai embassies. Shortly prior to the Mekong River cruise and subsequent trip to Phuket, it was more important to get the required visas for Vietnam and Thailand.

I could tell his angst continued while we were in Phuket, occasionally mentioning the dreaded process of driving four hours a day for three of five days. Aware of his angst, one day an idea popped into my head…Why don’t we book a hotel in the resort town of Lovina, starting on Monday, checking out on Friday while we take care of the visa extensions while staying in the resort town? 

We were surprised how well the decorations held up after it had rained.

If we had a rental car for the five days, we could drive back and forth to the immigration office from the hotel as required on Monday (drop off documents), Wednesday (photos and fingerprints) and Friday (pick up visa extensions).

Doing so could make the dreaded experience a fun adventure even though we’d have to spend a total of three to five hours at the Immigration office. Finding a rental car and hotel proved to be a tricky proposition when the weak WiFi signal easily inhibits online searching. 

We knew we needed Gede’s assistance in finding both a rental car and a hotel with his vast knowledge of the area. We hoped to find a hotel close to the immigration office, but with “maps” not working well, finding a good location nearby was cumbersome and time consuming.

Driving in Lovina is not unlike driving in Denpasar, a usual 10 minute trip could take an hour or more. A hotel with a close proximity to the immigration office was a must.

Statue shop on the highway from Denpasar.

Gede easily solved both concerns. First, he explained we could rent Egon’s van that sits in our garage unused most of the time for US $15.17, IDR 200,000 a day for a total of US $75.86, IDR 1,000,000 plus fuel, certainly no more costly than having a driver take us back and forth.

Secondly, Gede suggested some hotels within five minutes of the immigration office.  We opened the link on our site for enabling us to review the details of his suggestions and to search for prices and availability. The hotels he suggested didn’t appear to have availability. Leave it to Gede to figure out a solution.

He called the top rated, closest hotel and speaking in either Indonesian or Balinese, he was able to get us a booking, we’d never have been able to get on our own.  Plus, he negotiated a rate savings of US $50, IDR 691,125 per night for a total savings of US $200, IDR 2,636,500. The nightly rate he’d arranged is US $130, IDR 1,713,725.

On occasion, we’ve noticed vacant land for sale.

With four nights in the hotel, we’ll spend US $520, IDR 6,854,900, plus the rental vehicle and fuel at around US $100, IDR 1,318,250 plus meals estimated at US $50, IDR 691,125 for four nights at US $200, IDR 2,636,500. Breakfast and free WiFi are included in the hotel’s rate.

For the grand total (minus the cost of the visa extensions), our four night mini holiday will cost an extra (over and above what we would have paid for transportation) an approximate US $720, IDR 9,491,400. 

Is it worth the extra expense to reduce angst?  Absolutely! Besides Tom will be more at ease doing the driving himself. I get this. Also, it becomes a part of our time in Bali, we’re anticipating with enthusiasm instead of dread.

Balinese design on business.

First thing in the morning, two weeks from tomorrow, we’ll be on our way.While there, we’ll take and share photos of our accommodations, dining, the beautiful beaches in Lovina and sightseeing between trips to the immigration office.

Thanks, Gede. No words can express how much we appreciate your help in booking the five star hotel in Lovina at such an affordable price and spending time helping us figure this out!

Have a fabulous day filled with sunshine.

Photo from one year ago today, September 11, 2015:

These are the sizes of the aubergine we purchased at a farmers market in Savusavu, Fiji on the day of our arrival. We had a big hiccup that night which may be read here.

Part 1…A cultural day…A mixed bag of pleasure and red tape..

Sorry for late posting. Wifi issues.
Gede with his gracious parents.
“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”
Every evening when we dine at the large table facing the pool and the sea, at least two. Sometimes four buffalos pass on the beach. We’ve never watched buffalo while dining. It’s quite entertaining!

Who are we to say that obtaining a visa extension should be doable in one stop? We’re from a one-stop society.  You stop at a market, cash, or credit card and walk out the door with your groceries in hand. You visit a doctor and walk out the door with a prescription. Isn’t that what most of us throughout the world expect in our daily lives?

Expectations? They don’t apply when traveling the world as we do. Each country has its own manner of conducting business and we’re the captive audience stepping in line to comply whether we like it or not.

On our walk down the narrow road to visit Gede’s family home, he pointed out this temple where his family worships.

Yesterday we headed out with Gede at 9:00 am, wearing long pants, in the hot weather, as required when entering a government building in Indonesia. With our passports in hand with copies made (they keep our passports over the three-step/visit process over the five-day period), we were on our way.

As we’ve traveled the world over these past 43 months we’ve come to the conclusion regarding what we like and don’t like. We’ve discovered since our arrival in Bali that we’re not keen on long road trips unless we’re traveling for a specific final destination, not a round trip excursion. 

We walked down this road to Gede’s parent’s home.  In Bali, most citizens don’t own the land on which their home is located but they have the right to live there for life, paying taxes, and upkeep.

What does this mean? For us, it’s simple. We prefer a road trip that doesn’t require us to turn around and return to our original destination. We like new scenery. 

I suppose in part it’s due to the fact that we’re always searching for new photo ops and material for our posts.  Heading back and forth to the same location provides little stimulation and excitement when we’ve “been there, done that!”

The entrance gate to Gede’s family home includes his parent’s home and his brother’s separate home.

Sure, we’re “mental stimulation junkies.” Otherwise, we’d be living in a retirement condo in Scottsdale, Arizona, looking for the next coupon for seniors for breakfast at Denny’s.

As we review the types of activities that “trip our trigger” we both agree that local culture, history, wildlife, and other animals, vegetation, and exquisite scenery fall into the category of our deepest interests and hunger for life-changing experiences. 

The kitchen in Gede’s parent’s home.

Due to my physical limitations of a precariously delicate spine and neck, physical adventures don’t fall within that realm. We’ve accepted this reality embracing the things we can do as opposed to the things we can’t

How often we explain ourselves when others suggest we scuba dive or try white water rafting. Even snorkeling has its risks when a sudden movement could put a fast end to our travels.

The bed where Gede’s mom sleeps and rests, day and night.

Instead, we embrace the endless array of other types of “adventures” that stimulate our minds, leaving us with some of the best memories we could ever dream of carrying with us in our hearts as we continue on.

Thus, in essence, yesterday’s somewhat painstaking visit to the Immigration Office in Lovina Bali proved to be an unusual, albeit annoying, interesting experience that befell us. 

Gede’s brother’s home where they’re building a cement wall.

Complain? We could have. Tom’s bubbling annoyance was palpable. Mine was tempered by my usual “overly bubbly” mentality that all will work out in the end, which in itself could be annoying to him, although he keeps it to himself. How does one criticize a relatively optimistic cheerleader?

When we were turned away at the Lovina Immigration Office for missing copies (we had no idea these were required) of our airline reservations for our route out of Bali, we had one choice but to head to a local “Internet-shop” where I actually struggled bringing up our reservations to enable us to print the required copies. 

The computer was old with a version of Windows I hadn’t seen in decades and I had trouble using a mouse with my obvious lack of dexterity. Unable to get into Expedia, I found my way to Gmail, where I was finally able to dig up the tickets we’d received by email when we booked the reservations months ago. 

A bird in a cage at his brother’s home.

We printed multiple copies of the tickets at a total cost of IDR $10,000, US $.74. Where else could one buy anything for 74 cents? That even included my sweaty 15 minutes (sitting outside in the heat) on the old PC attempting to get my Gmail account to pop up.

While I was sweating on the computer, Tom and Gede were nearby while Tom was also sweating while busy filling out a double-sided questionnaire for each of us that we also had to complete and return to the immigration office after they returned from lunch at 1:00 pm.

This photo of Gede’s grandfather on the wall in his family home.

With almost an hour to kill before we could return, Gede suggested we stop and meet his parents who live nearby. He grew up in Lovina. We couldn’t have been more thrilled. This is the kind of experience that we treasure as opposed to a visit to a local tourist-jammed attraction.

Minutes later, we were walking down a narrow road to his parent’s home as Gede pointed out the homes occupied by a variety of his relatives.  n Bali, the locals tend to live together in clusters of individual homes. 

I took these photos without flash to illustrate the darkness of the living area in Gede’s family home.

We were a little concerned to barge in on their day unannounced. Gede’s mom is suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and he had no doubt they’d be home and happy to greet us. As we entered the gates, his dad immediately approached us with a welcoming “hello” (the same English word used in the Balinese language) and a gracious bow with the meeting of his hands. We returned the same greeting as an added warmth washed over us. The grace of the Balinese people is breathtaking.

For us, it was an honor to be able to visit his parents, see where he grew up, and grasp a better understanding of life for the people of Bali. As Gede explained during the many hours in the car, in Bali, there are only rich and poor, nothing in between. The concept of a middle class is unheard of in Indonesia, particularly in Bali as we’ve seen on the many occasions we’ve been out and about.

On the narrow road, we walked to Gede’s family home in Lovina.

As it neared 1:00 pm, we headed out to return to the immigration office with heartfelt goodbyes and thank you’s.  Although his parents speak no English, the communication was clear, kind, humble people appreciating every moment of life, regardless of how tenuous it may be at times. It was a valuable reminder for us, especially on such a hot, humid, and at times, strenuous day.

Tomorrow morning, again leaving at 9:00 am, when we must return to the Lovina Immigration Office for Trip #2 once again we’ll post earlier than usual sharing the “rest of the story” and more sites we’ve seen in our full 9 to 5 travel days. Back to you soon.

Photo from one year ago today, May 24, 2015:

We posted this last video of the Laysan Albatross mating dance as we shared our final expenses for the four months we spent living on the Hawaiian island of Kauai as we prepared to leave for a cruise to Australia. For details, please click here.